Happy 50th birthday to that song kids (and many adults) in the 1970's couldn't get out of their heads. You might not even know the song's name, but you know Mahna Mahna when you hear it.

The song entered the American consciousness 50 years ago when it was performed by Jim Henson's muppets first on "Sesame Street," then on the Ed Sullivan Show. But the song was actually written by an Italian composer, Piero Umiliani, and appeared in the film "Sweden: Heaven and Hell," where Swedish models go to a sauna. Riveting stuff.

The song had much better luck when Henson chose it for the Sesame Street skit. It even hit the Billboard Hot 100 charts, peaking at #55. Through the years, it's been redone and featured on "The Benny Hill Show" and even the UK version of "The Office."

WDAY logo
listen live
watch live

In 1996, on "Muppets Tonight", movie star Sandra Bullock and Kermit the Frog had some fun with the song, taking it into a psychiatrist's office. Vancouver-based journalist Jennifer Van Evra wrote a fantastic piece detailing even more history about the song.

It's been turned into a heavy metal song by the UK band Skin in 1996 and used to sell donuts in a Canadian Dunkin' Donuts commercial in the early 1990's. It sold Diet Dr. Pepper in 2004.

More recently it's been used to sell cars, Saturn Auras in 2007 and Ford Explorers in 2017.

But it will forever be remembered by many of us as the Muppet's greatest (if not earwomiest) hit.

This is the latest in a series of reports about the story behind famous songs. Previous stories include: "44 years after sinking, last communications from the Edmund Fitzgerald still haunt," "You think you know what U2's 'Pride' is all about? Reagan? Jesus? MLK? Yes." and "25 years later: Dan Rather's weirdest day turned into a hit song."